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8.0 Elbow Lake Catchment: Actions/Opportunities

Developed by the Elbow Lake (Parham) Association and its partners, the Elbow Lake Stewardship Plan (2012) provides information on many aspects of the lake environment, as well as actions to maintain and improve the long-term health of the lake. The following list includes some of those identified actions that have implications for the land and water resources of the lake ecosystem. Specific actions noted by the Elbow Lake community are indicated by an asterisk.

Elbow Lake and Catchment Health


Work with approval authorities (Central Frontenac Township, Frontenac County, Kingston Frontenac Lennox and Addington Health Unit, Mississippi Rideau Septic System Office and RVCA) and waterfront property owners (including the Duncan Lake community and Elbow Lake Association) to consistently implement current land use planning and development policies for water quality and shoreline protection adjacent to Duncan Lake, Elbow Lake, Fish Creek and headwater streams in the catchment (i.e., a minimum 30 metre development setback from water).

Explore ways and means to more effectively enforce and implement conditions of land-use planning and development approval to achieve net environmental gains (particularly with respect to rehabilitating or protecting naturally vegetated shorelines and water quality).

Encourage Committee of Adjustment to take advantage of technical and environmental information and recommendations forthcoming from planning and environmental professionals.

Municipalities in the Tay Watershed are encouraged to strengthen natural heritage and water resources official plan policies and zoning provisions (pertaining to water setbacks, frontage and naturalized shorelines and wetland protection) where deemed appropriate.

Work with Central Frontenac Township, Frontenac County and agencies to ensure that development approvals around lakes and along watercourses take into consideration the protection of fish habitat (including the near-shore nursery and spawning habitat).

Municipal and agency planners together with development proponents are to use the 2014 Site Evaluation Guidelines to inform decision-making about the application of development setbacks on lots with shallow soils/bedrock, steep slopes and sparse vegetation cover along with the use of the appropriate, development related, best management practices.

Utilize RVCA subwatershed and catchment reports to help develop/revise official plan policies to protect surface water resources and the natural environment (including woodlands, wetlands and shoreline cover).

Establish RVCA regulation limits around the 93 percent (1434 ha.) of wetlands in the catchment that are unevaluated. Doing this will help protect landowners from natural hazards including mitigating surface water flow by storing water during periods of peak flow (such as spring snowmelt and heavy rainfall events) and releasing water during periods of low flow (this mitigation of water flow reduces flood damage), as well as contributing to the stabilization of shorelines and to the reduction of soil erosion damage through water flow mitigation and plant soil binding/retention.


Continue to explore ways and means to increase individual Elbow Lake property owner acquisition of the 2013 Love Your Lake Program waterfront assessment reports and participation in the implementation of individual property recommendations.*

Take advantage of the RVCA Shoreline Naturalization Program to re-naturalize altered creek, lake and stream shoreline identified in this report as “Unnatural Riparian Land Cover". Given the undeveloped nature of most of the catchment, consider concentrating stewardship efforts on Elbow Lake waterfront properties shown in orange on the Riparian Land Cover map (see Figure 65 in Section 4.4 in this report). Other stewardship opportunities in the catchment may be determined based on septic system inspections and surface water quality monitoring results. Use the Elbow Lake coordinator to help disseminate information about the program.*

Promote the use of bioengineering methods (using native shrub/tree planting, fascines, live stakes) as a shoreline erosion mitigation measure as well as a cost effective alternative to shoreline hardening (with rip rap, armour stone, gabion baskets, walls).

Educate landowners about the value and importance of natural shorelines and property best management practices with respect to shoreline use and development, septic system installation and maintenance and shoreline vegetation retention and enhancement (Central Frontenac Township, Elbow Lake Association, Kingston Frontenac Lennox and Addington Health Unit, Frontenac County, Mississippi Rideau Septic System Office and RVCA).

Water Quality

Work with the Township of Central Frontenac to establish a septic re-inspection program (mandatory/voluntary) on Elbow Lake.*

Provide advice to the Elbow Lake Association about the physical state of the large beaver dam along the south shore of Elbow Lake and its potential impact to lake water quality, if it were to fail.*

Consider further investigation of the 1) Very Poor to Poor surface chemistry water quality rating on Elbow Lake, 2) Poor to Good surface chemistry water quality rating in Fish Creek and Poor to Good instream biological water quality rating in Fish Creek as part of a review of RVCA's Watershed Watch, Baseline and Benthic Invertebrate surface water quality monitoring.

Offer funding provided by the RVCA Rural Clean Water Program to landowners with potential projects that could improve water quality on Elbow Lake and its tributaries including Fish Creek (e.g., livestock fencing, septic system repair/replacement and streambank erosion control/stabilisation).

Educate waterfront property owners about septic system care and maintenance by providing information about sewage system maintenance (i.e., when to pump out septic systems and holding talks) through initiatives such as the Septic Savvy Workshop and services provided by the Mississippi Rideau Septic System Office.

Reduce pollutant loading to Elbow Lake through education about the application of shoreline, stormwater and agricultural best management practices; also consider using low impact development (LID) methods to improve the quality and reduce the amount of stormwater runoff directly reaching the lake ecosystem. This will be particularly beneficial in areas with extensive impervious surfaces (i.e., asphalt, concrete, buildings, and severely compacted soils) or on sensitive waterfront properties (with steep slopes/banks, shallow/impermeable soils).

Elbow Lake and Catchment Habitat

Aquatic Habitat/Fisheries/Wildlife

Consider a follow-up survey of the aquatic vegetation in Elbow Lake to determine if the anecdotal evidence of the level of aquatic vegetation in the lake has changed substantially since the 2010 Frontenac Stewardship Council survey.*

Explore the feasibility of control measures for Eurasian water milfoil, such as use of the native water milfoil weevil.*

Discuss alternatives to the dynamiting of the beaver dam along the west side of Elbow Lake undertaken by the Canadian Pacific Railway, to alleviate the Elbow Lake Association's concerns about its impact on the lake ecosystem including water quality.*

Consider a second fish spawning enhancement project on Elbow Lake, if the results of the 2017 MNR fish community survey suggest the need to do so. This action would address a number of goals listed in the Elbow Lake Stewardship Plan (2012).*

Consider a Bioblitz to learn more about the flora and fauna in the area, which could be organised by the Elbow Lake Association.This endeavour would have the added benefit of bringing residents together to exchange ideas and ultimately increase participation in other projects such as the naturalization of shorelines.*

Educate waterfront property owners about: 1) fish habitat requirements, spawning timing and near-shore and in-water activities that can disturb or destroy fish habitat and spawning sites 2) the causes of excessive algae and aquatic vegetation growth (see the RVCA publication entitled Algae and Aquatic Plant Educational Manual) and 3) healthy lake ecosystems and associated water level fluctuations in a natural environment.

Elbow Lake Association Leadership

Lake Planning

Continue to tackle projects and issues related to the 2012 Elbow Lake Stewardship Plan's five main objectives: 1) maintain and improve water quality 2) maintain and improve wildlife and fish habitat 3) preserve peace and tranquility 4) emphasize safety in the pursuit of recreational opportunities and 5) strengthen a sense of community.*

Use the information contained in the Tay River Subwatershed Report 2017 and Elbow Lake Catchment Report 2017 to assist with implementation of the 2012 Elbow Lake Stewardship Plan.*